Leaving Antigua, W. I.

Friday, July 13, 2012

An Intergalactic Shipmate

Captain Ishtarek, aboard  Renaissance
 Did you ever read a book that had such vivid characters that they seemed real?  I recently had that experience with Diane Rapp's new book, Dragon Defense. There's review on my writer's blog at www.clrdougherty.com.  Here's a transcript of my interview with the captain of a different kind of voyaging vessel.

Character Interview with
Captain Ishtarek and C.L.R. Dougherty

Dougherty:     I shuttled onto the battleship Renaissance to conduct an interview with Captain Ishtarek.  Captain, please tell me about your unique heritage.

Ishtarek:  What?  You haven’t met an ordinary spaceship captain before?

Dougherty:     I met human captains, and sail my own ship on Earth, but I’m told your planet of origin is called Grawshishkeckkk…Sorry, I can’t quite pronounce the name.

Ishtarek:  (He grins, displaying sharp teeth, and his green scales gleam.)  I was making a joke with you, Earthling.  Your species is not expected to pronounce the name of my planet correctly.  (He makes sounds that start with a growl, change to a hiss, and ends with KKK.  He laughs at my startled expression.)   Humans on the crew call me and my planet “Gronk.”  They usually say this behind my back, unaware that my superior hearing detects the word, but it’s the closest sound your limited vocal chords produce.

Dougherty:     Gronk?  Can you describe the planet my readers?

Ishtarek:  (He nods and his neck crest quivers.)  It is the most beautiful planet in civilized space, filled with lush swamps, scented bogs, quicksand, and gigantic trees that we use to escape from dangerous predators.  Six moons orbit in a sky that shimmers in various shades of gold, although swamp mist often obscures the lovely sight.  (He gazes wistfully at the ceiling.)  Sorry, I haven’t visited home in several spans.

Dougherty:     I understand that Gronks are valuable members of the Institute’s military division.  How did you become a soldier?

Ishtarek:  From my first day out of the shell, I was tagged for military training.  As squirts we fight each other in a natural battle to select the strongest and most clever candidates.  The survivors move on to train in our military academies.  You notice that I’m over eight feet tall.

Dougherty:     Er, yes, I wondered if the males in your race are so tall.

Ishtarek:  Females breed a variety of sizes in each clutch, but my father’s bloodline is valued for well-proportioned bulk and high intelligence.  Large members of my race seldom achieve sufficient test scores for military training.  They often fill positions requiring manual labor.

Dougherty:     When you were chosen to command the Renaissance, did you understand the full scope of the mission?

Ishtarek:  You refer to Fremont’s decision to destroy the planet?  No, as my superior he did not feel it necessary to reveal his plans until we orbited Drako.  I am not at liberty to discuss Institute orders.

Dougherty:     Didn’t Fremont’s orders to destroy Drako seem excessive?

Ishtarek:  (His eyes darkened and his neck crest quivered.)  Human members of the crew objected on humanitarian grounds.  I allowed them to stand down, but I was unable to disobey orders.

Dougherty:     Gronks cannot ignore an order?

Ishtarek:  (His green scales darken.)  We are incapable of insubordination.  We follow orders to the letter regardless of its potential destruction. 

Dougherty:     No wonder Fremont requested you to serve as captain of the Renaissance.  He knew a human crew might not follow his orders.

Ishtarek:  Humans are a difficult race to fathom.  Now the dragons of Drako are charming creatures that appeal to my species.  Have you seen the variety of colors they display in their wings?

Dougherty:     I scheduled a dragon ride with Shariel tomorrow.  It should be an exhilarating experience.  Do you have dragons on Gronk?

Ishtarek:  There are draconic creatures on my planet, but their foul temperament does not encourage direct contact.  An unwary person might lose a limb or get its tail bitten off before escaping their ire.  (His tail swishes to emphasize the comment.)

Dougherty:     Have you met the telepathic wolves on Drako?

Ishtarek:  Yes, their leader, Kriegen, was a congenial host in a hunt with his pack.  We hunted a large stag, and I relished the taste of freshly blooded kill—a delightful experience. 

Dougherty:     Are you telepathic?

Ishtarek:  My species does not possess that talent, yet.  However, I understand humans developed the skill after many Transfers.  Reports of improved skills after Transfer give us hope. 

Dougherty:     How did you communicate during your hunt?

Ishtarek:  The daughter of Donovan, Tessa, acted as guide and interpreter.  She is beautiful—for a human—when she runs with the pack.  Perhaps I’ll return to Drako in a few spans and hold a telepathic conversation with the wolves, but I’d rather speak with the dragons.  Shariel claims that the color inside a dragon’s mind is vibrant.

Dougherty:     Can’t Shariel use her “mind control” ability to let you speak directly to the dragons?

Ishtarek:  (His neck crest flairs and his eyes narrow.)   A military leader never condones mind control regardless of the benign purpose.  Excuse me, but you must disembark before 1300 hours—unless you wish to take a long voyage into space.

Dougherty:     Sure, I’ll leave right away.  Thanks for the interview and I hope you make it back to Gronk before long.

Ishtarek:  (He flattens his neck ridge and extends his claw for a brief handshake.)  It was a pleasure to meet an Earthling.  You conducted yourself with sufficient decorum for an inferior species.  

Dougherty:     It was nice to speak with you, too.  Happy sailing, captain. 

Read my review of Dragon Defense at www.clrdougherty.com,, or buy a copy from Amazon's Kindle Store at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008KS3MG8